Advanced Training Techniques for Rifle Silhouette
Long Range Offhand Steel Target Shooting Competition

Get Onto that Steel Target Faster

I have always shot fairly quickly and it is not necessarily a bad thing. It can be important on gusty days to be able to get shots off in a hurry in a calm period. Sometimes in a match when I had a bad day and was out of the running, I would intentionally shoot the last 5 shots as fast as I could. I did it in fun mostly but it was also helpful in getting onto the target faster between shots. Your ability to get zeroed in on a target quickly can improve with training. I am not talking about rushing the trigger finger, just the part of getting to the point where you can settle on the target. When you have been shooting in an established stance and hold, it is easier to get into position each time after picking up the rifle and, after taking a shot and closing the bolt with the next round in the chamber. Practice speeding up the time it takes to get set. Even if you wish to take your time throughout the 2-1/2 minutes of firing time allowed, if you practice the skill of quickly finding the target, it will help you in the future at some point. There have been several times in my past when I have shot at or near the pace in the video to take advantage of a calm point in the wind. It is inevitable that something is going to happen during a match when you will need extra time or want to shoot faster. It might be relative to equipment, weather or just wanting to discuss what the heck just happened with your spotter. It will happen. Why press your luck into having seconds to get your last shot off? Why not have the skill it takes to get that last shot off in seconds if seconds are all you have left?

If you watch the video of me shooting the 9 out of 10 steel Pigs rapidly, you can see that it is possible to get on target in no time if you practice. I do not shoot like this while trying to compete unless the conditions demand it. I do manage the rifle in a similar manor in a match. Think about it... if you can get organized in under 5 seconds, think of the luxury of time you have to settle on the target and fire. It is not a requirement that you train to get onto the target and be able to actually hit it in five seconds. The point is to be at least near that point and settle in to take the shot. It goes back to my strong feelings of it being impossible to recover lost time and, this is a timed sport.

Scope Adjustment

Adjust your scope to match the conditions. Many people hold off to one side of the animal to adjust to wind conditions. Personally I disagree with that method. If you are seeking the exact same sight picture every time, on the center of the animal, it becomes more and more familiar to the eye. When you are aiming at specific points and you are on target, it is a highly recognized event in your mind. If you are deciding to alter the position of your aiming point on any given shot, you are moving your mind into unfamiliar territory.

Practicing

If you can go to the range and practice, make it mean something. It is nice to go out and casually shoot but practice can be made better. Shoot an actual match and keep track of your score. Any time I am at the range for practice I am shooting 40 shot matches. I have my own metal targets and can set up 20 of each animal. This can be done at the swingers if you do not have targets. Practice a 40 round match using paper targets printed out from the "PRACTICE" page on this site. Shooting a match at paper targets can be very enlightening. To increase the difficulty and improve the aim, shoot a 40 round match just at the Turkeys or Rams. If you compete well against yourself as I do, you will find yourself getting the pressure in practice as you would in a match. You are conscious of the 10's in a row as well as the chance to get a better score than you have ever had before. 

Stupid Flintching

I have been plagued at times with getting anxious about getting on target and flinching the shot in the wrong direction. It is most common on a breezy day when it is harder to get centered on the target. I have found that I can cut it down or out by a strong focus of the trigger finger. Being completely conscious of the pressure of the index finger against the trigger helps me focus the attention of the action of firing back to where it ought to be.

Tracking Your Scores

Not as strong of a point to the more experienced shooter but, sometimes it can be helpful to go back and look at how you have been doing. Figure out what your average score is for each animal and evaluate it. If you are shooting Rams better than Chickens, you are either really good at Rams or having a problem on the Chickens and should practice them more. If you have had a few matches in a row with poor results on a single animal, evaluate what might be wrong. If you do not monitor your progress you may not notice where you can make an improvement.

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